A bygone tradition: May Day

Celebrations were once a highlight of the year in Baldwin County

By Allison Marlow
Posted 11/17/17

Enormous, fluffy, gorgeous spring dresses flanked by dapper gentlemen dressed in their Sunday best. On the sidelines politicians stumped and while crowds flocked to food, drink and fellowship. The …

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A bygone tradition: May Day

Celebrations were once a highlight of the year in Baldwin County

Posted

Enormous, fluffy, gorgeous spring dresses flanked by dapper gentlemen dressed in their Sunday best. On the sidelines politicians stumped and while crowds flocked to food, drink and fellowship. The whole town, nay, the entire county looked forward to this day.

It sounds like a movie script. But this in fact was May Day, once the highlight of the Baldwin County social calendar.

May Day is celebrated in many cultures around the world for several different reasons. In the U.S. the event heralded the coming of spring. There was dancing, singing and the choosing of the most important participants of the day: the May Day Court.

Every school in Baldwin County sent representatives to the court. There was a dance around the May Pole and a queen was named.

“It was a really big deal for the Baldwin County schools,” said Mickey Boykin, a volunteer at the Daphne History Museum. “But the demographics have changed. It’s just not feasible anymore.”

The first May Day was held, at Daphne’s May Day Park, in 1907. The tradition began to sputter out in the late 1960s.

Now, folks who remember those celebrations have become nostalgic and suggested bringing the event back. Unfortunately a modern incarnation of the tradition has never made it past the hopeful planning stages.

“It was wonderful,” Boykin said. “But I think we may have moved on.”

The museum, located at 405 Dryer Ave., is home to an entire collection of May Day memorabilia, including photos, videos of the May Pole dancing, a May Pole and the elegant dresses the women and girls wore.

Visit the museum to see these and other great memorabilia from Daphne History. The museum is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.